“Did anyone bring a torch?” I heard Kristina saying, although I could barely make out her features in the surrounding dusk. It was around 8pm, and the sun had well and truly set by this point, so we were trudging along in the dark. We had almost got to the end of the rocky mountain path, but we still needed to trek across the plateau at the foot of the path leading to the village, and we could barely see a few feet in front of our noses. It turned out that between seven of us, we only had two torches that were strong enough to make any difference…
This was of course not the only rookie error we made on the two day trek up and down Mount Toubkal – at 4,167 metres the highest peak in the Moroccan Atlas mountains, and all of North Africa, for that matter.
We also didn’t bring a map, apart from a printout of a blog post I found online (which I thought gave pretty clear directions to the top!). And we didn’t even consider hiring a guide with a mule to carry our stuff or lead the way. I don’t think anyone had a compass, either.
As I look up all I can see is metal staircases, stretching up seemingly right up towards the sky. I’m in the middle of one of them, gripping so hard my knuckles are going white, as I re-clip my carabiners onto the next chain. Click one. Click two. Phew…safe.
Via ferrata is not for the faint of heart – it’s an experience that requires a bit of a head for heights, arguably to a greater extent than “proper” climbing. Some via ferrata have a great deal of exposure, and falling off is really not the best idea, despite being protected along the way.